By Jesse Byrnes
Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump defended Planned Parenthood during an interview Tuesday night, doubling down on his remarks that part of the group should be funded.
“They do good things,” Trump said during an interview with Sean Hannity that aired on Fox News.
“They also, however, service women,” Trump said, adding later, “We have to help women. A lot of women are helped. So we have to look at the positives for Planned Parenthood.”
Trump's comments immediately drew fire from anti-abortion-rights advocates, who say that abortion represents a larger portion of what the organization does and that it should be entirely defunded.
The Susan B. Anthony List blasted the billionaire businessman, saying he should have stuck with his remark earlier on Tuesday describing Planned Parenthood as “an abortion factory.”
“Donald Trump completely misleads Americans by repeating tired Planned Parenthood talking points,” Marjorie Dannenfelser, the group's president, said in a statement Wednesday.
Dannenfelser cited Planned Parenthood's annual reports to say that its “abortions are on the rise,” to nearly a million in the past three years, while “non-abortion services have dropped significantly.”
The prominent anti-abortion-rights group initially withheld most of its fire from Trump on Tuesday when he drew heat for saying parts of Planned Parenthood should be funded — a week after saying he supported shutting down the government in order to defund the group in the wake of several undercover videos.
A sixth video from an anti-abortion-rights group, the Center for Medical Progress, was released early Wednesday.
For its part, Planned Parenthood praised Trump's remarks earlier Tuesday when on the question of funding he said on CNN that he would look at other “good aspects” of Planned Parenthood.
“Donald Trump seems to have realized that banning all abortions, shutting down the government, and defunding Planned Parenthood are extreme positions that are way too far outside the mainstream for even him to take,” Eric Ferrero, vice president for communications, said in a statement shared with The Hill.
“We hope that the rest of the GOP field will wake up and reconsider their extreme and unpopular positions on defunding preventive care, abortion bans, and the other economic issues that women and their families care about,” he added.
Trump pivoted during the Fox interview to hit Jeb Bush, another Republican presidential candidate, over a recent remark on funding for women's health. Trump has battled in recent days accusations of sexism over remarks regarding Fox News host Megyn Kelly.
“If Mr. Trump is truly concerned about women’s health, he should support immediate defunding of Planned Parenthood and the reallocation of those funds to organizations better suited to women’s health care needs,” Dannenfelser said Wednesday.